TRX Pushups: A New Way to Build a Great Chest
As a kid, the push-up was the gold standard for measuring strength, but when was the last time you saw a person doing a push-up in the gym? Push-ups are a common body-weight exercise designed to strengthen the chest, arms, shoulders, and trunk. Performing a push-up requires trunk stability through a symmetric upper body pushing movement. This combination occurs in many functional and sport activities.Popular fitness literature suggests that varied hand placements during push-ups may isolate different muscles. Popular belief indicates that wide base pushups activate more pec fibers, but this study showed otherwise.Scientific literature, however, offers scant evidence that varied hand placements elicit different muscle responses. Researchers examined whether different levels of electromyographic (EMG) activity in the pectoralis major and triceps brachii muscles are required to perform push-ups from each of 3 different hand positions: shoulder width base, wide base, and narrow base hand placements. Forty subjects, 11 men and 29 women, performed 1 repetition of each push-up. The EMG activity for subjects’ dominant arm pectoralis major and triceps brachii was recorded using surface electrodes. The EMG activity was greater in both muscle groups during push-ups performed from the narrow base hand position compared with the wide base position. This study suggests that, if a goal is to induce greater muscle activation during exercise, then push-ups should be performed with hands in a narrow base position compared with a wide base position.
If you want to activate the chest more, perform the TRX suspension push-up. Researchers investigated the electromyographic activity of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii between a suspension push-up and traditional push-up. Twenty-one apparently healthy men and women volunteered to participate in this study. All subjects performed four repetitions of a suspension push-up and a traditional push-up where the order of the exercises was randomized. The mean peak and normalized electromyography of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii were compared across the two exercises. At the end of the study, the mean peak and normalized electromyographic values were significantly higher for all 3 muscles during the suspension push-up compared to the traditional push-up. This study suggests that the suspension push-up elicited a greater activation of pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii when compared to a traditional push-up. Therefore, suspension push-ups may be considered an advanced variation of a traditional push-up when a greater challenge is warranted.
Cogley RM, Archambault TA, Fibeger JF, Koverman MM, Youdas JW, Hollman JH. Comparison of muscle activation using various hand positions during the push-up exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):628-33.
Snarr RL, Esco MR. Electromyographic comparison of traditional and suspension push-ups. J Hum Kinet. 2013 Dec 31;39:75-83. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2013-0070. eCollection 2013 Dec 18.